This article reviewed and discussed the present state of knowledge with respect to various important processes that govern transport and movement of radionuclides in atmosphere and in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Each process is complicated and more data are needed to refine the transport models to assess and predict the fate of radionuclides and their impacts on ecology.
Radionuclides entering the atmosphere and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems through various processes of biogeochemical cycles might potentially increase risks to public health because the cycles of transfer of radio-nuclides from air to soil, soil to plants, and plants to animals can occur and were addressed previously. The transfer is a long-term process. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a longer-term study of the changes of bio-geochemical cycles of radionuclides and their impacts on ecosystems.
In conclusion, the health effects that have resulted from exposures received as a result of nuclear weapons tests include thyroid disease exposed to 131I (iodine-131, t1/2 = 8 days) which concentrates in the thyroid gland as well as leukemia and solid cancers from low-dose rates of external and internal exposure. An obvious example is the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan more than 60 years ago. The bombings were tragic experiences for the cities and for many survivors who sustained severe radiation exposures and injuries from the blasted air shock waves. Radiation-associated deaths from leukemia (46% of all leukemia deaths) peaked within 10 years of the bombings. Many of these radiation-related cancer deaths continue to occur. It is a lifetime of suffering to the survivors. The Chernobyl accident produced similar results. To date, the United Nations reports that 4000 people developed thyroid cancer following that accident, and 56 people, mostly rescue workers, have died from radiation released during the accident.
See also: Pedosphere.
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